It’s been way too long since I’ve posted, and I need to make this brief (so no editing), but I feel the need to express myself. I apologize in advance for the disjointed meandering of this post, but I really need to get this out.
My dad passed away a few weeks ago. Anyone who’s read this blog all the way through has some idea of the strained/troubled relationship I’ve had with my parents.
I was estranged from my parents for a little over 5 years prior to my dad’s passing. I knew there would be a possibility there would not be reconciliation on the physical plane while my parents were still alive, but I chose to keep my distance and work on forgiveness and learning to take responsibility for myself without blaming my parents for the choices I make as an adult. I’ve done that to a large degree and I have no regrets. However, my mother has advanced dementia/Alzheimer’s, so when I returned home after my dad died, I found that my mother was no longer “there” either. It was like losing both my parents at once.
During the years I was working through all the horrific abuse that permeated my childhood, one of the themes that kept resurfacing for me was anger at my mother for wanting us, her children, to give her something she was unable/unwilling to give us–protection from my dad.
My mother did almost nothing to protect her children from the violent abuse of my father. And I resented that. Even when I was searching my heart to find forgiveness toward both my parents, I felt bothered by the fact that while I was growing up, my mom would complain bitterly to me and my siblings about my dad, but never do anything about the situation. My dad was less abusive to my mom than he was to his kids (meaning it was limited to emotional abuse for her), but we could never complain to my mother about my dad because she would tell him and then we would suffer even more abuse. She leaned on us emotionally, we who were technically both his victims and hers, but did not offer any support in return. I struggled so hard with this, until recently.
The person my mother was is no longer there. She doesn’t remember any of the bad stuff that happened. And I’m so grateful for that. My mother made some very poor decisions, as all of us have at one time or another, but I’m thankful that God, or the universe or whatever, has seen fit to free her from having to live with remorse over those poor decisions. I know for sure my mother did the best she could with what she had to work with. Same with my dad. And truly, none of us really want to suffer the consequences of our poor decisions, but I find many people want others to suffer for theirs.
When I was growing up, my parents never hugged us kids, ever. They also never told us that they loved us. I cannot deny the impact this has had on my adult relationships, but I spent the past several years getting past my issues about hugging and expressing my love for people. It wasn’t easy but I’m way more comfortable now that way than I ever have been. Up until recently I could remember hugging my mother one time, as adult, and how painfully uncomfortable that experience was.
I now visit my mother weekly. I take my kids to visit her too. She’s very sweet and finds reasons to laugh even though I can tell the mental decline is stressful for her at times.
Since I’ve been reconciled to my mother, I now hug her every week. So do my kids. My siblings do not do this, but none of them have yet worked through the issues that I’ve worked through. My mother seems to love receiving these hugs from me and her grandchildren.
And suddenly, I’m not angry anymore that my mother needs/wants something from me that she could never provide to me when I needed/wanted it from her.
I did the work so when the time came I would have it to give, and I’m happy to give it to her now.
All is well and all is forgiven.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I owe so much of this healing to a book called Radical Forgiveness and its author, Colin Tipping. I will always be grateful to the person who recommended this book to me (and to Colin for writing it and for being a generally kind and supportive person) and I would love to see everyone read it, because everybody has someone or something they struggle to forgive…and this man and his book can help.